The Wisdom Chronicle

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The Wisdom Chronicle is designed to bring nuggets of wisdom from the dozens of books I read every year. I endeavor to share the best of what I have gleaned. The determination of relevance lies with you. Blessings, J. Whiddon

  1. CONSISTENCY “A resident in a seaside hotel breakfast room called over the head waiter one morning and said, “I want two boiled eggs, one of them so undercooked it’s runny, and the other so overcooked, it’s about as easy to eat as rubber; also grilled bacon that has been left on the plate to get cold; burnt toast that crumbles away as soon as you touch it with a knife; butter straight from the deep-freeze so that it’s impossible to spread; and a pot of very weak coffee, lukewarm.”

“That’s a complicated order, sir,” said the bewildered waiter. “It might be a bit difficult.”

The guest replied, “Oh, but that’s what you gave me yesterday!”

Excerpt From: Hodgin, Michael. “1001 Humorous Illustrations for Public Speaking.”

  1. PARENT AUTHORITY “The most popular TV shows of the 1960s through the 1980s consistently depicted the parent as the reliable and trusted guide of the child. That was true of The Andy Griffith Show in the 1960s; it was true of Family Ties in the 1980s. But it’s not true today. Looking through the list of the 150 most popular TV shows on American television right now, I did not find one that depicts a parent as consistently reliable and trustworthy.

It’s tough to be a parent in a culture that constantly undermines parental authority. Two generations ago, American parents and teachers had much greater authority. In that era, American parents and teachers taught right and wrong in no uncertain terms. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Love your neighbor as yourself. Those were commands, not suggestions.

Today, most American parents and teachers no longer act with such authority. They do not command. Instead they ask, “How would you feel if someone did that to you?” The command has been replaced by a question.”

Excerpt From: Sax, Leonard. “The Collapse of Parenting.”

  1. POPULISM From a May 26, 1792, let­ter from U.S. Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Alexan­der Hamil­ton to Vir­ginia of­fi­cial Ed­ward Car­ring­ton:

“On the whole, the only en­emy which Re­pub­li­can­ism has to fear in this Coun­try is in the Spirit of fac­tion and an­ar­chy. If this will not per­mit the ends of Gov­ernment to be at­tained un­der it—if it en­gen­ders dis­or­ders in the com­mu­nity, all reg­u­lar & or­derly minds will wish for change—and the dem­a­gogues who have produced the dis­or­der will make it for their own ag­gran­dize­ment. This is the old Story.

If I were dis­posed to pro­mote Monar­chy and over­throw the State Gov­ern­ments, I would mount the hobby horse of pop­u­lar­ity—I would cry out usurpa­tion—danger to lib­erty etc. etc.—I would en­deavor to pros­trate the National Gov­ern­ment—raise a ferment—and then “ride in the Whirl­wind and di­rect the Storm.”

Wall Street Journal 3-9-16

  1. PEERS “The more uncertain people are—and the higher the stakes involved—the more vulnerable they are to the sort of cue taking that leads to herd behavior. That’s why teenagers are presumably more likely to succumb to peer pressure than adults. They have less experience to draw upon when evaluating the pros and cons of conforming, and the stakes are higher.”

Excerpt From: Belsky, Gary. “Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes and How to Correct Them.”

  1. TYRANTS “It is in con­nec­tion with the de­lib­er­ate ef­fort of the skill­ful dem­a­gogue to weld to­gether a closely co­her­ent and ho­mo­geneous body of sup­port­ers that the third and per­haps most impor­tant neg­a­tive ele­ment of selec­tion en­ters. It seems to be al­most a law of hu­man na­ture that it is eas­ier for peo­ple to agree on a neg­a­tive pro­gram—on the ha­tred of an en­emy, on the envy of those bet­ter off—than on any pos­i­tive task. The con­trast be­tween the “we” and the “they,” the com­mon fight against those out­side the group, seems to be an es­sen­tial ingredient in any creed which will solidly knit to­gether a group for com­mon ac­tion. It is con­sequently al­ways em­ployed by those who seek, not merely support of a pol­icy, but the un­reserved al­le­giance of huge masses. From their point of view it has the great ad­van­tage of leav­ing them greater free­dom of ac­tion than al­most any pos­i­tive pro­gram. The en­emy, whether he be in­ter­nal, like the “Jew” or the “ku­lak,” or ex­ter­nal, seems to be an in­dis­pens­able req­ui­site in the army of a to­tal­i­tar­ian leader.”

— Friedrich Hayek, “The Road to Serf­dom” (1944)

  1. MARCH MADNESS “Sports gamblers are fooled by momentum. Colin Camerer, a Caltech professor of behavioral economics, found that winning and losing streaks affected point spreads. Bets placed on teams with winning streaks were more likely to lose, and bets placed on teams with losing streaks were more likely to pay off. In other words, gamblers systematically overvalued teams with winning streaks and undervalued those with losing streaks.

Excerpt From: Tobias Moskowitz & L. Jon Wertheim. “Scorecasting.”

  1. BIBLE VOTER’S GUIDE For whom should you vote? Read Psalm 15.

— Dave Berry

  1. WONDERFULLY MADE “Human eyes are composed of more than two million working parts and can, under the right conditions, discern the light of a candle at a distance of fourteen miles. The human ear can discriminate among some 400,000 different sounds within a span of about ten octaves and can make the subtle distinction between music played by a violin or viola. The human heart pumps roughly one million barrels of blood during a normal lifetime, which would fill more than three super tankers.”

Excerpt From: Moreland, J.P. “Love Your God with All Your Mind (15th anniversary repack).”

  1. I’M OUT ON BOOKS!

– 42% of college grads never read another book after college.

– 80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year.

– Reading one hour per day in your chosen field will make you an international expert in 7 years. (robertbrewer.org)

  1. ALL THERE IS? “Those who believe that this life is the only reality are likely to be led to one or more of three negative conclusions about life:

1: Hedonism, If this life is all one has, then it is quite logical to live a life devoted to self-gratification.

2: Utopianism. Idealistic people who believe that this life is all there is reject hedonism. But they may embrace a far more dangerous ideology—utopianism, the desire to make heaven on earth. Hence the attraction of utopianism to so many twentieth-century radicals who have rejected Judaism and Christianity.

In light of the hells on earth that secular Utopians have produced, it is clear just how important the deferring of Utopia to a future world is. Had people like the Bolsheviks and millions of other secular radicals not tried to create heaven on earth, they would not have created hell here.

3: Despair. In light of the great physical and emotional pain that so many people experience, what is more likely to induce despondency than believing that this life is all there is? The malaise felt by so many people living in modern Western society is not traceable to material deprivation but, at least in part, to the despair induced by secularism and its belief that this world is all there is. That is why peasants with religious faith are probably happier than affluent people who have no faith (and why more affluent secularists, not the poor, are generally the ones who start radical revolutions).”

Excerpt From: Prager, Dennis. “Think a Second Time.”

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3 replies
  1. Andy Ryan says:

    “Those who believe that this life is the only reality are likely to be led to one or more of three negative conclusions about life”

    Dennis Prager presents this with no evidence whatsoever. In my experience believing that this life is all there is leads people to:
    A) Make the best of the life they have
    B) Pursue equality and justice in this life for all, as they can’t trust it will be provided in some other life

    “That is why peasants with religious faith are probably happier than affluent people who have no faith (and why more affluent secularists, not the poor, are generally the ones who start radical revolutions).”

    This sounds like you’re saying “Give the peasants religion and they’ll accept any injustice we pile on them in the hope that things will get better after they die”. Without revolution America would still be part of Britain.

    “it is clear just how important the deferring of Utopia to a future world is”

    Important to tyrannical leaders, perhaps. This sounds like you’re saying there’s no point in trying to improve anything about the world you and your children live in, and just hope things will get better after you die. This sounds like an appalling philosophy.

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      “…And why more affluent secularists, not the poor, are generally the ones who start radical revolutions”

      Come to think of it, this is a particularly bizarre argument coming from Dennis Prager, who speaks so loudly opposing gun control laws, often citing that guns are required by the population in case they need to over throw a tyrannical government. But now suddenly revolutions from the ‘peasants’ are a terrible thing.

      So which is it? Do the ‘unaffluent’ need religion to keep them happy with their lot, not want to improve things or overthrow tyrannical government, or do they need to want to improve their lot through capitalism and be armed in case the government needs chucking out through non-democratic means?

      It’s almost like there’s no consistency at all in Dennis Prager’s arguments.

      Reply
  2. Luke says:

    “Reading one hour per day in your chosen field will make you an international expert in 7 years.”

    I’m somewhat skeptical of this claim. An “international expert” is a pretty high bar. 1 hour a day for 7 years is about 2,500 hours, which is far short of the 10,000 hours often quoted as the practice time it takes to become an expert (as popularized by Malcolm Gladwell). The main reason I’m skeptical is that anyone who is currently an international expert surely reads more than one hour a day in their field, so it seems that the bar on what it takes to be in that high class would raise quite a bit.

    I have no doubt that one can gain a tremendous amount of knowledge in just one hour pay day, but “international expert” seems so stretch things pretty dramatically. I may well be wrong, but that’s my take.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply

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